Government

Steve Bellone discusses ideas about promoting the arts in St. James with Natalie Weinstein from the civic group Celebrate St. James during a recent visit to the Calderone Theater. Photo by David Luces

State and local officials gathered at the St. James General Store to commemorate the recent completion of the new pedestrian crossing that connects the store to Deepwells Farm and its parking. The project also included drainage and infrastructure repairs near the building as part of phase one of the Downtown Revitalization Project. 

The arts, experts state, is a sure-fire way to revitalize a community. Photo by David Luces

Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) noted that the repairs were completed just in time as the community nears peak holiday season, when residents frequent the Suffolk County-owned and operated shop. 

“As you know this is the oldest general store in operation in the United States,” he said at a press conference. “Not only does this [repaved road] make for safe crossing on Moriches Road, but the beautification allows for more people to stop and encourages people to shop locally.”

Douglas Dahlgard, Head of the Harbor mayor, said the general store is a destination in the community. 

“This is a destination, it has been one since 1857,” he said. “History is very important in this community, tourists have come from as far as South Africa [to visit the store]. [The store] reminds me of my roots.”

Wehrheim expects the rest of phase one initiative, which includes renovating sidewalks, crosswalks and concrete gutters spanning from Patrick’s Way to Jericho Turnpike, will be completed in the next two weeks.

Phase two of the revitalization plan is expected to be completed by the end of winter.  It includes adding a sewer line and pump station along the main stretch of Lake Avenue, new off-street municipal parking and major pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures. 

After the press conference, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) joined town officials in a Lake Avenue walking tour and visited the Calderone Theater, which will soon open as a cultural arts center in the future.     

Wehrheim said they have looked at a number of parcels that are primed for economic development. Ideas include purchasing the vacant Irish Viking Bar to create a pavilion for live entertainment in the center of town and additional parking. 

Suffolk County legislators approved a $3.2 billion budget for 2020 Nov. 6. TBR News Media file photo

In a 16-2 bi-partisan vote, Suffolk County legislators approved a $3.2 billion budget for 2020 during a special meeting this past Wednesday, Nov. 6.  

Highlights of the budget include $640,000 for contract agencies, additional positions in the Sheriff’s Office, restoration of funding to the Legal Aid Society and $500,000 for implementation of the school bus camera program. 

The property tax level for the Southwest Sewer District has been decreased, restoring it to the 2019 level. Cash reserves were increased by $2 million for settlements to reduce the need to borrow to cover liability expenses, reduced reduced sales tax revenue in the general fund by $1.7 million over two years and included repayment of funds borrowed from the Assessment Stabilization Reserve fund. 

The additions were offset by an anticipated $2.5 million in fine revenue from the school bus camera program, reducing repayment of the Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund from $12 million in the recommended 2020 budget by $2.6 million, and reducing the uncollected property tax contingency line by $1.6 million. 

 

People go to vote at the Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham. Photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County Executive:

(WINNER) Steve Bellone (D) – 55.42% – 148,043 votes

John M. Kennedy Jr. (R) – 43.38% – 115,867 votes 

Gregory Fisher (L) – 1.18% – 3,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor: 

(WINNER) Ed Romaine (R) – 61.52% – 51,155 votes 

Will Ferraro (D) – 37.42% – 31.113 votes 

Junie Legister (L) – 1.04% – 865 votes 

 

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent: 

(WINNER) Dan Losquadro (R) – 58.47% – 48, 624 votes 

Anthony Portesy (D) – 41.51% – 34,514 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 1st District: 

(WINNER) Valerie Catright (D) – 57.36% – 8,647 votes 

Tracy Kosciuk (R) – 42.59% – 6,421 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 2nd District: 

(WINNER) Jane Bonner (C) – 61.97% – 10,028 votes 

Sarah Deonarine (D) – 37.99% – 6,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 3rd District:

(WINNER) Kevin LaValle (R) – 65.12% – 8,228 votes 

Talat Hamandi (D) – 34.85% – 4,404 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 6th District: 

(WINNER) Sarah Anker (D) – 54.32% – 9,715 votes 

Gary Pollakusky (R) – 41.05% – 7,342 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 5th District: 

(WINNER) Kara Hahn (D) – 63.1% – 9,763 votes 

John McCormack (R) – 36.88% – 5,706 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 4th District: 

(WINNER) Thomas Muratore (R) – 58.97% – 7,275 votes 

David T. Bligh (D) – 39.23% – 4,839 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 16th District

(WINNER) Susan Berland (D) – 53.89% – 6,501 votes 

Hector Gavilla (R) – 46.08% – 5,559 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 13th District: 

(WINNER) Rob Trotta (R) – 61.99% – 10,385 votes 

Janet Singer (D) – 38.01% – 6,367 votes

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 18th District:

(WINNER) William “Doc” Spencer (D) – 61.47% – 11,998 votes 

Garrett Chelius (R) – 33.81% – 6,599 votes 

Daniel West (C) – 4.71% – 919 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 15th District:

(WINNER) DuWayne Gregory (D) – 72.15% – 7,037 votes

Chrisopher G. Connors (R) – 27.68% – 2,700 votes 

 

Huntington town council member – two seats:

(WINNER) Joan Cergol (D) – 26% – 20,882 votes 

(WINNER) Eugene Cook (R) – 24.81%- 19,931 votes 

Andre Sorrentino Jr. (R) – 24.07% – 19,336 votes 

Kathleen Clearly (D) – 23.38% – 18,777 votes 

 

Huntington Town Clerk: 

(WINNER) Andrew Raia (R) – 57.71% – 23,804 votes 

Simon Saks (D) – 42.28% – 17,441 votes 

 

Smithtown town council member – two seats: 

(WINNER) Thomas Lohmann (R) – 32.35% – 14,076 votes

(WINNER) Lisa Inzerillo (R) – 32% – 13,925 votes 

Richard S Macellaro (D) – 17.36% – 7,556 votes

Richard Guttman (D) – 17.32% – 7,535 votes 

 

 

 

Community gathers at the Old First Church in Huntington to celebrate those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

The Town of Huntington Opioid and Addiction Task Force invited residents to join a special program Oct. 28 at the Old First Presbyterian Church in Huntington celebrating those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

 The program, “A Recovery Event: Celebrating Hope in Huntington,” featured first-hand accounts from those who have conquered addiction, information about local prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and a stirring performance by the Old First Church Sanctuary Choir.  Sharon Richmond shared her story about her son Vincent.  The ceremony was dedicated to his honor. (See page A5 for her story.)

 “Huntington, like every other community in America, has been hit hard by the opioid crisis,” said Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the program with the task force. “We created this event to show that there is a cause for hope and that in fact that there are thousands of local residents who have found a path to recovery,”

The event drew more than 100 people to the Old First Church. A highlight of the evening was a candlelight circle to celebrate, honor and remember those who were lost as a result of their addiction.

Created by a town board resolution in December 2017, the Opioid and Addiction Task Force includes local health care professionals, educators and community leaders. It works to unify, support and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts within the town. Its goals include reducing the incidence of substance abuse, promoting timely access to care for consumers and their families, creating environments conducive to recovery and reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

“Many of our families have been greatly affected — their lives changed forever after losing a loved one to addiction,” Cuthbertson said. “We know that substance abuse is preventable, addiction is treatable and recovery works.”

The town is hanging resource information posters around town.

“Somebody is waiting for you to come to them,” said Stephen Donnelly, who has sponsored different opioid services in the past. He encourages people to ask people impacted:  “How can I help you?”

For Treatment Referral List contact the 24/7 hotline 631-979-1700. Help is a phone call away.

Photo by Donna Deedy 

Sharon Richmond poses with her son Vincent D'Antoni in Battery Park on Mother’s Day 2016. “One day society will look back at this time period and think what a terrible atrocity we allowed to happen to our most vulnerable children,“ Richmond said. Photo by Sharon Richmond

I am educator, an advocate and most importantly a parent who lost her only child to the disease of addiction. Unfortunately, I know I am not alone. The truth is: I stand with more than 72,000 other parents who grieve the loss of their child to an overdose. 

When I speak publicly about addiction issues and look out at people, I see a small piece of me. When I look at your child, I see the beautiful potential of what could have been my child. If only mental health and the disease of addiction had the same basic human right to health care as other illnesses. I hope that by sharing my son’s story, I can create a future where all people are treated equally, no matter their ability or disability. 

My son Vincent was sensitive, kind, funny and insightful. He was popular, played almost every sport, and his teachers always said he brought conversations to the next level and stood up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I will always stand tall and be proud of the person my son was. 

The one thing that most people never knew was that, no matter how hard he tried, Vincent still battled with serious mental health issues: ADHD, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), anxiety and low self-esteem, which eventually led to a deep depression. Even though Vincent had a family that absolutely adored him and everyone he met thought he was handsome, smart and funny, Vincent … never saw himself that way. Children need to be taught how to communicate and be given a variety of strategies to cope in today’s world. We have to work together. It needs to be at the family, school and community level. 

Vincent started smoking marijuana in high school. Toward the end of my son’s life, he shared that “pot” had been his gateway drug to stronger drugs. After high school, he was hanging around with a different crowd. During college, his “A” grades started to falter. Then, he lost his job. Something wasn’t right. I searched his room and found what I feared most: Oxycodone had become Vincent’s drug of choice. We had heated discussions that oxycodone was extremely dangerous and addictive. He would show me research that denied it. As we all know, powerful companies can find ways around the law and can state just about anything they want and get away with it. 

The oxycodone amplified my son’s anxiety and depression. He began to isolate himself. He could hardly get himself to go to work or even out of the house. Vincent tried to self-detox and get drug free on his own, failing several times. 

Finally, Vincent agreed his addiction was out of his control. I had so much hope he was going to get the treatment he desperately needed. Over the course of just one year, prior to my son passing away, he would get denied by the insurance company over four times! 

The insurance company stated he didn’t fit “medical necessity.” First, he had supportive parents. Second, he was motivated to get better. By the third denial, I filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office. They were able to get my son 14 days. 14 days … is such a short time to physically and emotionally overcome addiction, and certainly not enough time for Vincent. My son came out and soon relapsed. This time to heroin. 

After battling with the insurance company for months, they finally approved my son. Regrettably, unbeknownst to us, insurance companies are allowed to back-deny services within 30 days of approval. After detox and 14 days, my son was back-denied, stating he had no other mental health illnesses, was highly motivated to get better, and had a supportive family. He was crying that he needed more time. He was extremely anxious and severely depressed. They placed Vincent on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication, even though my son was denied treatment due to not having any mental health illnesses. 

My son was trying to get better. He went to out-patient almost every day, met weekly with his counselor, and attended meetings at night. 

In the next few weeks, Vincent stayed drug free … he was beginning to be himself again. However, without getting the services he desperately needed and deserved, my son relapsed and bought drugs unknowingly laced with the deadly drug fentanyl. My son Vincent had no chance. I lost my shiny star, my beautiful son, Vincent on Sept. 13, 2017. Last month would have been his 28th birthday. 

Vincent’s battle is one like too many others. In his honor, I advocate for change. He had so many barriers making it so difficult to get the help he needed: whether it be getting denied Suboxone for detox, incorrect information to determine appropriate services, or getting the Vivitrol shot to help prevent relapse. No one should ever have to fight so hard for the basic human right to health care. 

Insurance companies need to be held accountable. They need to cross reference information for accuracy prior to denying inpatient treatment. They need to comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Federal law states that anyone with a mental health illness or the disease of addiction should get the same basic human rights to healthcare as those who have regular medical conditions. 

I couldn’t imagine if my son or anyone’s child had a regular health disease such as diabetes, a heart condition or cancer that they would get denied the medical care they needed, if they had a supportive family and were motivated to get better.

Over 200 loved ones die from an overdose every single day. We don’t have the luxury of time. In order to create any meaningful change, we need you to be a part of making a difference in our community. Your voice needs to be heard. It is so powerful and very important. If you truly want to see change … Reach out to your local and state representatives, ask them what their action plan is, and hold them accountable. Let them know how important it is for you and your children to have a future where everyone has the same right to get the care they need to be healthy. 

It is my hope that by sharing my son’s story, I can raise awareness, encourage the importance of communication, education and most importantly equality for basic human right to healthcare. 

Sharon Richmond lives in Northport and is part of the Town of Huntington’s Opioid Task Force. She is also a member of the Northport-East Northport Drug and Alcohol Task Force. She works closely with F.I.S.T (Families In Support of Treatment), LICADD (Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), FCA (Family and Children’s Association),  the North Shore CASA (Coalition Against Substance Abuse) and Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force. She is a teacher at North Shore Schools in Nassau County.

Incumbent Susan Berland and challenger Hector Gavilla are vying for Suffolk County’s 16th Legislative District seat. Berland of Dix Hills is the Democratic candidate and has served on the Legislature for the past two years. She served on the Huntington Town Council as a councilwoman for more than 16 years prior to being elected county lawmaker. 

Republican hopeful Hector Gavilla is seeking political office for the first time. In 2017, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 16th District seat which he lost to Berland. Gavilla has been a licensed real estate broker since 2003 and has run Commack-based Long Island Professional Realty since 2010.

The candidates are concerned with the future of the red-light camera program, the county financial situation, affordable housing and public safety. 

Red-light camera program:

The incumbent says she believes red-light cameras save lives. 

“People need to stop at a red light, they shouldn’t run through it and stop appropriately,” Berland said. “If people did that then you wouldn’t have the ‘money grab’ argument because they wouldn’t be paying the fines for them.”

Berland said there is a need for improvements in the program. She proposed looking at individual camera locations and potentially moving cameras to other problem areas. 

The incumbent also said they want to make sure they can oversee the placement of cameras once they get a new contractor. 

Gavilla disagreed saying the red-light camera program is a scam.  He argued that the cameras are placed disproportionally in low-income areas. 

“The county has discriminated by putting red-light cameras in low income communities,” he said. “There are none in the affluent areas [on the Island].” 

Though he admitted that if someone runs a red-light they deserve a ticket. 

Suffolk’s financial future:

The county’s finances have been one of the main topics of discussion in this year’s election season. According to a recent state comptroller report, Suffolk was under the most severe fiscal stress of any county in 2018 for the second year in a row. Suffolk had an operating deficit of about $26.5 million in 2018 and a general fund balance deficit of $285 million. 

Gavilla said the county is spending money it doesn’t have. 

“The total [deficit] amount depends on who you speak to,” he said. 

If elected, the challenger would get rid of certain special taxes and fees. He would also look to consolidating services and making cuts in some departments. 

“We need to cut expenditures, we can do that very easily by going to department heads and employees and incentivizing them to find ways to cut their fees,” Gavilla said. 

Berland said when Bellone was elected to office, the county was $500 million dollars in debt. 

“There hasn’t been an increase in the property tax line and we have kept within the 2 percent cap,” she said.  

Berland said they are continuing to provide the services residents need, while acknowledging that the county has cut numerous government job position in the last few years. 

Affordable housing on Long Island/Town of Huntington:

The county legislator said there is a need to find affordable housing for everyone. 

“We need to be able to provide affordable housing, you have these [housing] developments built and then 20 to 30 years later it goes to market rate,” Berland said. 

The incumbent looked to the recent Ronkonkoma Hub project as a way they could provide affordable housing as well as keep working families and young people on the Island. 

Berland said she supports continued economic development in the town and giving more resources to schools. 

 The challenger on the other hand would look to bring back high paying jobs to the area. 

Gavilla said he wants to bring back Fortune 500 companies, mentioning that his own father worked for a subsidiary of Grumman when he was young. He also said he would work with state lawmakers to assist in bringing those jobs here. 

In addition, Gavilla said there is a tax problem that needs to be fixed. 

“Property taxes are too high and that affects everything,” he said. “ You have to keep business owners here.”

Public safety (opioids/vaping/gang violence):  

Gavilla said while visiting homes throughout the area people are happy that federal government officials are assisting in the fight against MS-13. 

“I’ve visited close to 5,000 homes … the Hispanic communities are happy the feds are involved,” he said. 

Gavilla said there is a need for increased police presence as he believes more can be done on the opioid epidemic as well. 

According to him, the Hispanic communities are against making parts of Suffolk County as sanctuary areas, saying “they want the bad guys out.” 

Berland agreed with Gavilla that more can be done with MS-13, but said the Suffolk Police Department is doing a good job. 

The incumbent said in terms of immigration, people that are committing crimes should be deported. 

Berland supports banning vaping in the county, saying it has created “a whole new generation of kids smoking.”

“We also need to crack down on the sale of opioids and increase Narcan training,” she said.

Garrett Chelius is challenging incumbent William "Doc" Spencer for Suffolk County Legislative District 18.

Seasoned incumbent William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) is vying for a fourth term in the Suffolk County Legislature, where he has served for the past seven years. Spencer, a practicing physician for 28 years, has his own Huntington practice. 

Since taking office, the incumbent has worked to ban the sale of powdered caffeine to minors, raise the age of selling tobacco products, helped passed a measure to stop companies from manufacturing energy drinks to kids and spearheaded a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and a fee on single-use plastic bags.  

If reelected, Spencer would like to work on lowering the cost of living for young people in his district. He also proposed the need for a wintertime economy on the Island and suggested an indoor water park or convention center. 

Tackling the opioid and vaping crisis will present another challenge for Spencer, who said he is committed to finding treatment and addiction solutions to those affected. 

In Huntington Station, Spencer has his eyes set on connecting areas to sewer systems to attract restaurants and other local businesses.  

His challenger Garrett Chelius (R) is running because he is concerned that his three children, as well as other children in the county, are not going to be able to afford to stay in Suffolk. He blames the current administration’s fiscal irresponsibility. 

The long-time Huntington resident said his experience working in the banking and staffing industries for the past 25 years will help in getting the county back on track financially. Chelius also mentioned that the county has a junk bond rating due to seven straight downgrades.

The LIPA tax situation concerns Chelius. He said residents are fearful of how the upcoming LIPA court decision will affect them financially. In addition, congestion and overdevelopment in the town and safety issues related to the deployment of 5G technology are also concerns. 

If elected, Chelius would like to make sure beaches and waterways remain pristine for generations to come. He mentioned renovating Coindre Hall, a mansion and 33-acre park overlooking Huntington Harbor. Lessings Caterers currently uses the site as a catering hall.  Chelius believes it could be an amazing pier and harborside facility as well as a must-see family-friendly destination for residents and out-of-town guests. 

“Lastly, people are concerned about the water we all share, the water to drink, and the harbors and bays we enjoy,” Chelius said. “We need to make every effort to keep both our drinking water and our harbors and bays pristine.”  

Also, the challenger believes the red-light camera program is unsafe and biased toward lower income areas. 

Daniel West is also listed on the ballot running for the seat on the Conservative Party line. He was unable to be reached for an interview. 

The town of Huntington operates with a four-member council and a town supervisor. Currently, the supervisor is a Republican and two of the four council members are Democrats. Six names are on the ballot for Huntington’s town council, and voters can choose two candidates to serve a four-year term. The outcome of this election will determine majority party rule. 

Two incumbents are running for reelection: Joan Cergol (D) and Eugene Cook (R). Cergol is cross-endorsed by the Green, Working Families and Independence parties. Cook is cross-endorsed by the Conservative, Libertarian and Independence parties. Challengers include Kathleen Cleary (D) and Andre Sorrentino (R), who is cross-endorsed by the Conservative and Working Families parties. Eleanor Putignano is running on the Green Party. Patrick Deegan is running as a Libertarian. 

Putignano and Deegan, though they are listed on the ballot, were unable to be reached and did not attend the candidate debate hosted by TBR News Media. Deegan later agreed to a telephone interview. 

In general, Huntington’s hot topics center on overdevelopment, water quality, parking and the high cost of living.  

Joan Cergol

Joan Cergol, after being elected in 2018 to serve a vacated one-year term seat, is running again this year for a full four-year term. A lifelong Huntington resident who has worked as a communications specialist, she is one of two Democrats on a four-member board. Cergol said that she considers herself an independent voice that works for all people in the Town of Huntington. 

“If you want someone with a steady hand and head, a warm heart, a strong work ethic, all driven by an overarching desire, in all decisions made and votes cast, to simply do the right thing for Huntington, I’m your choice for town board,” Cergol states in her public profile online.

Cergol’s top concerns include budgetary policies related to appointed positions in town government and the lack of affordable housing.  

“There’s no $1,500-a-month apartments anymore,” she said. 

She said the town can save money for cash-strapped taxpayers if it exercised greater restraint and followed a different process for town employees. People in appointed positions should be qualified and paid fair wages rather than excessive salaries, she said. She favors zero-based budgeting, a system that audits every job position to justify its value and necessity. She also thinks the town can do a better job tapping into available grants to offset expenses, rather than hitting taxpayers up for different projects. 

To address the housing concern, over the last year, Cergol successfully sponsored legislation that allows people, mainly the elderly, to rent out their own home, while living in their own smaller, accessory apartment on premises. The policy, she said, solves multiple housing-related issues, and she said it’s one of her proudest accomplishments during her first year as a legislator. Live-streaming and close-captioned viewing of town meetings were also her initiatives. 

Overall, Cergol considers herself a problem solver of issues big and small and knowledgeable on the mechanisms of government. She said she prefers watching other people cross the finish line, rather than being in the spotlight herself. 

The town, she said, is 95 percent built out. When considering redevelopment and revitalization projects, she said its important to evaluate the economic, social and environmental factors.

Eugene Cook

Eugene Cook has been elected to the town council for two consecutive terms and is running for a third and final term. He sponsored the new term-limit legislation and wants to be the first to leave after three consecutive terms. 

Cook was raised on Long Island and lives in Greenlawn. He’s a welder by trade and owns a building contractor business. 

The LIPA tax certiorari issue, he said, is the town’s greatest challenge and he is committed to pursuing all avenues to fight National Grid, who owns the Northport power plant. LIPA, he said, is out of control. 

Other pressing issues for Cook include overdevelopment. He’d like to see the Village of Huntington designate more areas as historic to preserve its charm. The best way to enhance the community, he said, is through the arts. He is committed to supporting cultural projects that keep Huntington vibrant. Quality of life issues, he said, is and should be a main consideration when evaluating development projects. These approaches, he said, place Huntington on the map as a destination. He opposed the proposed Villadom Mall project in Elwood. The site, he said, is now under consideration for open space preservation. 

To address ongoing need for additional parking, Cook sponsored legislation to purchase the old Chase Bank property at Gerard Avenue and Main Street, which will be leveled and converted to a 71-stall parking lot. The site is an asset, he said, that can always be sold if Uber and other shared drive services replace the demand for parking. Cook opposes the construction of what he called an unsightly, $30 million, multilevel parking garage, because the town may never need it and will likely mismanage the project. 

Cook said he is proud of everything he does as a town council member. Helping veterans, he said, is particularly rewarding. He recently connected the Hispanic community with the police to enroll 250 kids in a new PAL soccer program. The experience, he said, was heartwarming. He also likes helping all mom and pop shops address building issues or whatever their concern may be. 

“It’s my pleasure to serve the community,” he said. 

Kathleen Cleary

Kathleen Cleary is an East Northport resident with experience as a contract manager for Fortune 100 companies. Like Cergol, she said the town is bloated with patronage positions. Her experience overseeing projects to meet time and budget constraints, she said, will help bring transparency and ethical reform to Huntington. Her business administration degree, she said, will also help her streamline town operations through departmental and personnel efficiency assessments.

The lack of adequate parking in downtown Huntington is an ongoing problem. To address issues, Cleary’s ideas include implementing employee parking shuttles. She has no spot in mind, only a concept. Overdevelopment is also a top concern.  

Cleary opposes settling the LIPA suit.

“You can’t just sit back and let them walk all over us,” she said. 

She is impressed with community activism about the issue over the last few years. Because the Northport power plant is not an isolated case in one town, she said state government needs to offer remedies. 

Overall, Cleary said her people skills, experience with government contracting and navigating bureaucracy makes her a good candidate for better efficiency and cost-cutting in town government.

Cleary also has a background in horticulture and is a Cornell certified master gardener. These skills, she said, provides insights into how to address water quality issues. She’s been involved with Long Island Native Plant Initiative, the Huntington League of Women Voters and Keep Islip Clean Project Bloom. 

Andre Sorrentino

Andre Sorrentino is also a lifelong Huntington resident and owner of PAS Professional Automotive Services. He promises to bring the small businessman perspective to town council. He loves Huntington and said he believes in getting things done. He’s proud to be a family man. 

“I want to be the guy people go to,” Sorrentino said. 

Sorrentino has insights into the town’s highway department, where he has been director of general services since February 2018. In that post, he’s helped to beautify parks. As an automotive inspector, he said that he sees firsthand that the poor state of the town’s highway equipment needs to be addressed.   

Sorrentino said he feels a strong obligation to give back. He’s serving his fifth year as Huntington fire commissioner. He has gained a reputation in the community for his work handing out turkeys to families in need around Thanksgiving. Last year’s drive donated 2,660 turkeys. 

As a tradesman, Sorrentino said that he would like to see the town promote apprenticeship programs, an idea that both Cergol and Cleary also see as important. 

Patrick Deegan

Patrick Deegan is running a grassroots campaign with no money, no fundraising and just relying on support from neighbor to neighbor.  He’s running on issues of water quality and soil contamination that can potentially cause a health crisis.

He said he’s worn four hats in life: semiprofessional distance runner, business man, a talent agent and for the last 17 years an unpaid advocate.  

Deegan suffers from a connective tissue disorder that prevents him from physical labor but allows him research issues. Deegan said that he has been operating as a lobbyist, but since he’s not paid, he’s really an advocate.  

He said he has researched topics and has worked behind the scenes to address issues such as opposing the Villadom development project and raising awareness statewide on fentanyl. 

“This is what I’m doing with my free time now, “ said Deegan.  “I want to help people.”  

The job as town representative requires mental challenges.  

If elected, Deegan will strive for more community-based leadership. He praises the work of civic organization and people who band together like the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, which opposes the golf course development.

“If a tree falls down, we don’t need to wait three days for the town to come,” he said. “We can get it taken care of.”

Margot Rosenthal (D) is challenging incumbent Leslie Kennedy (R) for County District 12. (photo right to left)

The Times of Smithtown circulation area includes two Suffolk County legislative districts: 12 and 13. The 12th District encompasses Nesconset and Lake Grove and extends west through portions of St. James into Commack. The 13th District extends from Fort Salonga east to St. James. 

Currently, two Republicans represent the areas, Leslie Kennedy and Robert Trotta, respectively. Overall, the Democrats with an 11-7 ratio, have a majority rule in the county, as it has for the last 13 years. Republicans held the majority for 33 years prior to that. 

Many analysts say that this year’s election could potentially see a shift in power or perhaps tie the representation. So a lot is at stake.

District 12: Parts of Smithtown, Nesconset, Hauppauge, Village of the Branch, Lake Grove, parts of St. James, Commack, Lake Ronkonkoma and Centereach

Smithtown resident Margot Rosenthal, a nurse-practitioner, midwife and a Smithtown Democratic Committee person is challenging incumbent candidate Leslie Kennedy.  Rosenthal did not attend the debate hosted by TBR News Media. According to her online profile, she seeks to address health care, housing, education, environmental causes and improve access to mental health care.  She is committed to combating the opioid crisis and teen vaping. She has worked for 39 years with underprivileged patients. 

Kennedy, a Nesconset resident, has worked for 13 years as a legislative aide to both Donald Blydenburgh and her husband John Kennedy. She was elected to her seat in 2015, when her husband became the county’s comptroller. 

In a one-on-one interview, Kennedy said that she loves government and policymaking but hates politics.  Her background in the medical field, she said, provides the county with useful insights that contribute to the county’s response to the opioid epidemic.  She is opposed to the county’s current cesspool/septic system replacement initiative to reduce nitrogen. The systems, she said, are ineffective.  Peter Scully, Suffolk County deputy executive, who is addressing the county’s water quality issues, said that nothing can be further from the truth. 

Kennedy opposes the red-light camera bill, stating that it mainly targets and enforces questionable violations of right turns on red.  The affordable housing issue, she said, is one of her top concerns. 

Some of her proudest accomplishments include the preservation of the Nissequoque River’s headwaters.

Smithtown Town Hall

The Town of Smithtown is run by a four-member Town Council and a town supervisor. Two seats are open for this year’s election with five people running for office. Smithtown’s council is currently all Republicans. Two incumbents are running for reelection: Thomas Lohmann and Lisa Inzerillo. Their challengers include two Democrats, Richard Guttman and Richard Macellaro, and Libertarian candidate Patricia Shirley. 

Patricia Shirley (L)

Patricia Shirley

Kings Park resident Patricia Shirley is running a grassroots campaign to institute change. She said she would like to see the town’s system of government shift to include more transparency and citizen engagement. She’s noticed that at meetings council members tend to talk too technically without engaging residents. She said she has been going door-to-door and business-to-business mainly in Hauppauge, Smithtown and Kings Park to find out what’s on the minds of Smithtown residents. A native Long Islander, she’s noticed a declining state of the Kings Park business district over the last eight years. She wants to see the community thrive, so it offers a promising future for children.

Shirley takes pride in her entrepreneurial background. Her expertise lies in budgeting and grant writing. She expects to be able to help Smithtown improve its planning, auditing and budgeting. She’s been in the health care field for 25 years and has worked at Developmental Disabilities Institute, also known as DDI, in Smithtown over the last 11 years. The group home has grown tremendously during her tenure there, she said. She has also founded the Shirley Academy, a school that trains people on medical billing practices. 

If elected, Shirley’s priorities include promoting entrepreneurship. She promises more round table discussions with community members.

New tools are needed, she said, for a new generation. Residents, she said, need to regain control. 

“I am a woman and an African American,” she said. “I’m black and I bring diversity to the town.”

She wants to make sure that people get out and vote to bring the count up. This is her first time running for public office.

Richard Guttman (D)

 Richard Guttman

Richard Guttman is another Kings Park resident running for a seat on the Town Council in part because of the decline in the Kings Park business district.

He blames overdevelopment as the underlying cause of many of Smithtown’s issues, whether it’s water quality, traffic jams, cut throughs or the lack of sidewalks and proper street crossings. Overall, he said, it creates safety concerns. 

“Trying to go into a store in Kings Park, you put your life on the line,” he said, referring to the parallel parking situation on Main Street. 

Guttman wants quality of life to be a main consideration to improve Smithtown communities. Projects, he said, are pushed through.

“When you put up a building, there’s more to consider than tax revenue,” he said.

Guttman is local attorney with 20-years’ experience. He operates his general law practice from his home. He handles immigration, tax and some criminal cases. Lately, many of his cases pertain to foreclosure, he said. He helps people file for bankruptcy to avoid losing their homes.

People, he said, are overtaxed. “Maybe, with a different president, that will change,” he said. As a council member, Guttman promises to advocate to keep costs down. 

With regard to economic development, Guttman recognizes the need for better infrastructure, such as sewers. He’d also like to see the Kings Park Psychiatric Center, where he regularly runs, move forward with plans to preserve the grounds as parkland. 

“I know it’s in the works, but I’d like to get it moving,” he said. 

Guttman is currently taking care of his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. If elected, he hopes to help institute programs to help other people in similar situations. 

“I am honest, earnest and promise to do a good job for all the hamlets, to listen to constituents and to come up with solutions that benefit the people.” 

Richard Macellaro

Richard Macellaro

Kings Park resident Richard Macellaro is running for Town Council, but has not been actively campaigning. However, he said in a telephone interview that he wants to win. Macellaro, one of two Democrats in the field for Town Council seats, is also calling for more openness and transparency in Smithtown government. He said that the public needs to more informed about the rights of taxpayers. Agencies and departments need to meet with council members on a more regular basis, he said.

Macellaro is semi-retired and currently works part time for the county’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. For 30 years he worked as a director of a home health care business in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

For nearly 60 years, Macellaro said, the town has lacked a master plan to guide the town’s development. If elected, he will make sure one is implemented and reviewed every five years to make sure the town stays focused. Macellaro has previously run for Suffolk County Legislature and New York State Assembly. 

Tom Lohmann

Thomas Lohmann

Tom Lohmann is running for reelection. He was originally voted into office in 2017 and wants to continue what he said he started — reinvigorating the town. His priorities include seeing through the implementation of a master plan for the town’s development. 

“The last time we had a master plan was in the ’60s and we’re doing it, it’s underway,” he said. 

The job requires full-time service and should not be part time, Lohmann said. The retired New York City police officer will take the $75,000 a year for the Town Council position and, combined with his police pension, he said he’s committed to do the work.

“It’s not about the money,” Lohmann said. 

Since he’s been elected to office, Lohmann said he’s spearheaded projects to reinvigorate parkland and beaches, including Gaynor Park and Flynn Memorial Park. The town has three sewer projects underway in Kings Park, Smithtown and St. James. The Kings Park sewers are moving ahead, he said, he’s currently looking for a location for the wastewater treatment plant for Smithtown and expects the St. James sewer to become a combined venture with Gyrodyne, in St. James, in the very near future. 

For 62 years, Lohmann has lived in the Town of Smithtown, currently in the hamlet of Smithtown. He said he is a third generation Smithtown resident. As farmland has turned to shopping malls and highways, Lohmann said he’s seen the change. 

The key to overdevelopment, Lohmann said, is smart development. A master plan, he said, takes care of that. He notes that the town lacks affordable housing. The younger generation, he said, doesn’t want a house. They want to be near a train line to the city and travel by Uber place to place and walk the town. It’s different, he said, from when he grew up. 

The 2 percent tax cap, which state lawmakers have made permanent, Lohmann said, is restrictive. Going forward, he’d like to have more interaction with the school districts. As far as combining services with other branches of government to trim the tax burden on residents, Lohmann said the town is already doing it. 

“We’re doing more with less,” he said. 

Prior to taking office, Lohmann worked as an investigator with insurance crime bureau of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. He also worked part time as a Head of the Harbor police officer. 

Lisa Inzerillo

Lisa Inzerillo 

Kings Park resident Lisa Inzerilla has been serving as Town Council member since 2015. She said she focuses on common sense initiatives to deliver efficient services, save tax dollars and protect suburban quality of life. She’s committed to making Smithtown user-friendly and has helped the IT department launch a new website this year. Inzerillo initiated the town’s Animal Shelter reform. She serves on the Labor Management and the Risk Management committees. Inzerillo is proudest of amending town code to prohibit hookah lounges and vape stores near schools, playgrounds and day care centers.